Until April 24, 2011 – The J. Paul Getty Museum
In a peripatetic career that spanned five decades, the photographer Felice Beato (1832–1909) covered a wide swath of East Asia. Following in the wake of Britain’s vast colonial empire, he was among the primary photographers to provide images of newly opened countries such as India, China, Japan, Korea, and Burma.
A pioneer war photographer, Beato recorded several conflicts: the Crimean War in 1855–56, the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny in 1858–59, the Second Opium War in 1860, and the American expedition to Korea in 1871. His photographs of battlefields, the first to show images of the dead, provided a new direction for that genre.
Catering to a Western audience, Beato produced an exceptionally diverse oeuvre: topographical and architectural views, including panoramas, as well as portraits and costume studies of the countries he visited or in which he resided.
In 1895 Beato opened a curio shop in Mandalay that quickly attracted foreign shoppers. In addition to photographs, he sold Burmese works of art in wood, metal, ivory, and silk, catering to the Western taste for souvenirs.
After a life of wandering, Beato returned to Italy, his birthplace, where he died in 1909.